David Robles is a Salt Lake City based outdoorsman who enjoys mountain biking, trail-running with his pups, and hiking with his partner, Destiny and their infant son. David grew up camping around SLC and biking in his parent’s hometown of Zacatecas, Mexico. He’s also a volunteer member of the Salt Lake County Mountain Search & Rescue team.
Name: David Robles
Hometown: Salt Lake City, UT and Zacatecas, Mexico
Profession: I currently work in higher education as an Academic Advisor. I've worked in higher education for eight years and have become extremely passionate about these spaces where growth, development, and knowledge can be shared and challenged. In addition, I spend much of my time consulting local nonprofits and serving my community by being on the Salt Lake County Search & Rescue team.
What types of outdoor activities did you do with your family when you were growing up? My dad has always been the adventurer in my family. I remember him taking us out to the most beautiful lakes where we would just swim and swim for hours. My mom always called him a niño since his curiosity would take him and my whole family on the most amazing adventures, road trips, and places. We also did a lot of cook-outs or as we called them, carne asadas, at local parks, mountainous picnic areas, and beaches. In these spaces, my brothers and I would play and play, as if time was endless. Growing up this way really fostered a love for being outside in all places: urban, rural, and wilderness. It also prepared me so much for my first camping trip with my uncle when I was thirteen years old. He had no idea what he was doing, I had no idea what camping was, but to this day it is one of the most memorable trips of my life. We took hours to find our campsite, had the funniest time trying to start a fire, capsized a water raft more than I want to remember, and literally had about a dozen crickets in our tent at nightfall—I wouldn't change this experience for anything in the world.
How do you spend your time in the outdoors solo? And with family? I would say that my time spent outdoors is split evenly with family trips and my solo trips. When I go out on my own, I either spend my time mountain biking, trail running, stand up paddling, or snowshoeing. Although Utah claims that it has all four seasons, it is still a desert, so the majority of my time is spent mountain biking on all the technical, flowy, and uphill trails that Utah has to offer. As for family trips, my wife and I recently had our first kid and he is amazing. I honestly think he loves the outdoors more than we do! Before he turns one, our goal is to get him out to all five of the national parks in Utah. Mostly to say he's been to all of them before, but also because as parent's we think its important to get out, explore, and connect with something bigger than ourselves--nature. He's been on over twenty hikes now, and I could see that getting up to 50 by the time he turns one. Since I plan way in advance sometimes, I already got him his first bicycle. People make fun of me for that, but as I've seen him go from sitting to rolling and from crawling to almost walking, I know that this kid is going to GO GO GO! The hope is that he loves mountain biking as much as my wife and I do, if not, maybe he'll enjoy being hauled up in a bike trailer--I know I would enjoy that, even as an adult. At least for now this little family of mine can continue to enjoy and look forward to sunset hikes, picnics, dog parks, soccer games, winter snowshoe trips, parkway runs, stand up paddling, mountain bike adventures, and spontaneous camping trips.
How long have you been mountain biking and how did you get started? I have been mountain biking for nine seasons now, but I would say that it has been way longer than that. I remember being in Mexico as a child and riding a red Huffy on some of the most undeveloped dirt roads. This is where I first learned how to ride a bicycle and became intrigued by what I consider the greatest human invention. We would race our beat up bicycles down massive dirt hills, drift and tail whip as if we knew what that was, and not even claim that we were cyclists. We were simply living. Fast forward to about three months after high school graduation in Utah, I started to become bored with road biking and being on flat roads. My body and mind needed something more. Maybe it was a longing for my childhood experiences that I had forgotten or the simple fact that I started to reconnect with nature. Regardless, it was that year that I decided to make the investment and make my way into the sport of mountain biking.
What bike(s) do you own? I used to think that owning more bikes would give me some sort of street cred. or status. At one point I owned four mountain bikes and two road bikes. Yes, it was a lot of maintenance and yes I spent a lot of money. Then one day I was loading up my car for a morning ride and looked into my garage as if I was looking into a mirror. At that point I realized that MORE was NOT MORE. I had wasted money trying to fit this image, and felt empty inside. Literally that same day I decided to sell all my bikes besides one. The one I decided to keep has been my main bike since 2015 and it is Santa Cruz Bronson CC.
What are your favorite trails to ride? Living in Salt Lake City I have come to love riding long uphill and downhill style trails. Although there are some great single tracks and ridge lines in the area, I prefer something that packs both a technical and heavy endurance challenge. If I were to list all of my favorite trails to ride, I am scared that I would list all the trails that exist in Utah. However, three of my absolute favorites are based on what I am feeling that day. If I want something long, technical, and flowy, one hundred percent of the time I end up doing the Wasatch Crest Trail. If I am on the go and want a quick ride, I find myself at the trail-head of Little Cottonwood Creek. If I am yearning for a weekend trip, I usually think of going down south to Moab, Utah and riding all sorts of tricks and giggles there—Perhaps the Whole Enchilada.
Learning something new and technical can be intimidating, period, but even more so when you’re the only one who looks like you. What would your advice be for the person who finds themselves in that situation? To simply put it, be authentic, open, and resilient. Too many times have I been in situations where my perspective on technical topics has been invalidated or devalued. In these situations I always remind myself that I am ENOUGH, I am knowledgeable, and I can do anything they can do, and better.
How does Mountain Rescue work? How often do you have training or operations? What type of skills do you have to have to try-out? The Salt Lake County Search & Rescue team provides search and rescue services in Salt Lake County. We do mountain search and rescue in rock, snow and ice, swift-water, urban, and dive environments. We operate free of charge, year round, 24 hours a day. Training sessions are weekly or biweekly and change from season to season. Call-outs can happen at any moment and usually can last anywhere from one hour to five hours or sometimes multiple days. We're a volunteer group. Not everyone can make it to every call. Some members of our team have flexible work schedules or understanding employers. Others don't. If you're available to go to a rescue, you go. If you're not, you don't. We do have minimum attendance requirements to make sure that our members stay well trained and ready for rescues, but we also understand that members have other commitments and obligations in their lives. We search for lost or missing people in the mountains. We rescue injured hikers on trails and injured climbers in steep, technical areas. We rescue injured skiers, snowshoers, snowboarders, ice climbers, and snowmobilers in the winter. We do avalanche rescue both in the backcountry and when avalanches hit mountain roads. We do swiftwater rescue in the creeks and rivers. We rescue boaters on the Great Salt Lake. We do dive rescues in the lake and in local reservoirs. Occasionally we are called for plane crashes. We also occasionally search in town - typically for lost kids or to help the Unified Police Department find evidence. Our most common calls in the summer are for lost or injured hikers. Our most common calls in the winter are for backcountry users on any type of snow travel gear.
Prospective candidates must meet the basic requirements: Be at least age 21 at time of application, have a current medical certification of at least First Responder (i.e., 50+ hours of EMS training), be a US citizen, have a high school diploma or GED, have a Utah driver's license, and be a resident of Salt Lake County. If they are invited to be on the team, then they are on probation for a year where they are required to master all of the rope/mechanical advantage systems we use and technical operations. Every May the whole team (including the newbies) go through a Rock Test where they are required to demonstrate their understanding for basic systems. That same week, the whole team is required to hike 1.7 miles up Mt. Olympus, which is about a 1300 foot ascent, all under 50 minutes. If a team member does not meet these requirements they do not make the team.
Can you recommend any specific advice for new parents who are interested in hiking with their newborns? Make sure you are always overly prepared. Hiking and adventuring with a newborn can be the most amazing experience, but could easily change into the most terrifying experience. Make sure to always pack the essentials (diapers, wet wipes, change of clothes, snacks, bottle of milk, layers, etc.), understand that their regulation of temperature is weaker than yours, and above all focus on their safety. If this is your first time getting out, make sure to do a "dry run." Take your newborn around the neighborhood and do a mock hike. You'd be surprised on how much you learn from the dry run. What you forgot, if you packed way too much, if your baby carrier is too tight or not fitted properly, and if you aren't taking enough pictures. Once you are ready to hit the dirt, start slow and steady. Choose a shorter trail and one that can be easily exited in case of an emergency. By emergency, I mean, anything from an explosive diaper to your newborn not enjoying the hike as much. Consider the weather and aspects of the trail. If it is blazing hot and the trail you chose has no shade, perhaps you should reconsider. On the other side, if it is pouring rain, hopefully you packed a rain cover for your little one and are on your way back to your car to go home. Of course I could go on and on about preparation, but at the core of it all, simply use common sense.